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Cardinal Pell responds to call to come home

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Cardinal George Pell has responded to calls for him to return to Australia to give evidence to the child abuse royal commission by noting hearing arrangements are a matter for the inquiry.

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The commission has agreed to allow Pell to give evidence from Rome via an audiovisual link on health grounds, but abuse survivors groups believe he should come home and appear in person.

“It is ultimately a matter for the Royal Commission to determine the precise arrangements for the provision of evidence by the Cardinal in Rome,” his office said in a statement on Thursday.

“The cardinal will continue to co-operate with whatever arrangements the royal commission determines.”

This week a crowdfunding effort raised more than $160,000 to help Ballarat clergy abuse victims travel to Rome for the cardinal’s testimony due to be given on February 29.

However, it remains uncertain whether they will be able to physically attended the hearing.

The commission is still determining what the arrangements will be.

The crowdfunding initiative got an enormous boost on Wednesday when comedian and singer/songwriter Tim Minchin released a single calling on Pell to come back.

The cardinal’s office says he’s “anxious to present the facts without further delays”.

“As Cardinal Pell has done after earlier hearings, he is prepared to meet with and listen to victims and express his ongoing support,” the statement said.

Three days have been set aside for Pell’s third royal commission appearance.

It will focus on the Catholic Church’s handling of widespread abuse over decades in the Ballarat diocese and Melbourne archdiocese.

Attorney-General George Brandis says people should respect a decision by the child abuse royal commission to allow Pell to give evidence by videolink.

Speaking in Washington DC where he is attending the Five Country Ministerial meeting, Brandis said it is not unusual to give evidence by video conference.

“Those people who have gone into the public arena to criticise that, are in fact criticising the orders that have been made by the royal commissioner and calling them into question. I think frankly the royal commission … should be respected by everyone,” he said.

AAP

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